Report by Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality: Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Subsidized Employment Programs

April 13, 2016 —

 The Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality has released a new report, “Lessons Learned From 40 Years of Subsidized Employment Programs.” The report examines what works in subsidized jobs programs, finding these programs to be cost-effective ways to decrease persistent unemployment and combat long-term poverty. 

Subsidized jobs programs provide paid work experience, job training, and supportive services to workers experiencing barriers to employment. They work by offering subsidies to third-party employers — public, non-profit, or for-profit — who in turn provide jobs to eligible workers. With demand far outpacing the availability of opportunities even when the economy is growing, these jobs programs offer multi-layered solutions to the most vulnerable populations.

“In this report — the most extensive of its kind — we looked at more than 40 programs and their results over 40 years, and the findings make clear that these programs have proven themselves as an effective strategy for fighting long-term unemployment,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, report co-author and director of the Project on Deep Poverty and Senior Fellow at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality. “This policy works to improve workers’ skills, improve the output of employers, and improve people’s lives — and policymakers should make it part of the conversation.”

With the benefits of jobs programs often clearly outweighing the cost, the report calls to make these programs a permanent part of U.S. employment policy with dedicated funding streams. A national program would help address income inequality and should draw from innovations that are taking place in communities throughout America.

The report examines over 40 jobs programs from the past 40 years, including 15 with rigorous evaluations, and found that these programs

— reduced family public benefit receipt;

— improved school outcomes among the children of workers;

— boosted workers’ school completion;

— lowered criminal justice system involvement among both the workers and their children; and

— more than paid for themselves.

Read the full report here.

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